Minamo and Lawrence English: A Path Less Travelled

That the title of this collaborative effort between Minamo and Lawrence English indirectly references Robert Frost's poem “The Road Not Taken” shouldn't be seen as an arbitrary gesture. It's not so much that the recording travels down paths heretofore unexplored by its respective creators so much that it does so with five explorers on board rather than just Minamo—Keiichi Sugimoto (guitar), Yuichiro Iwashita (acoustic guitar), Namiko Sasamoto (keyboards), and Tetsuro Yasunaga (electronics and objects)—or English (bass, harmonium, field recordings, electronics) traveling separately.

A Path Less Travelled exudes an overall sense of languor and is characterized by a restrained yet rich usage of texture. Recorded and produced in Tokyo and Brisbane, the album's five pieces were shaped and edited during a methodical two-year production process, with the five contributors carefully refining the individual pieces' sound worlds. The opening setting, “The Path,” exudes a becalmed, pastoral ambiance redolent of the creators' respective home bases. During its hypnotic ten-minute duration, a metronomic acoustic guitar pattern anchors the fragments of electric guitar and percussion that punctuate the track's swelling harmomium drone. “Glimmer” plunges into murkier territory by interlacing the crackling ripples of vinyl static with dissonant tones, bleating woodwinds, and nightmarish electronic noises. In contrast to the darkness enveloping “Glimmer,” “Springhead” finds voice elements and harmonium tones slowly blossoming like a blissful spring awakening. A brief cacophanous flourish inaugurates the track's second half wherein guitars, electronics, and brass unite in majestic union as they undertake a collective stately ascent. “Springhead” proves to be the album's most ear-catching track for the way in which it so methodically navigates its pathways during the track's seventeen-minute runing time. The album ends with “Fireworks,” which is filled with exuberant guitar strums, piano runs, and, yes, fireworks. The accompanying press info indicates that English manipulated sketches Minamo provided to him, but the parties don't appear as separate entities within the mix, though one could separate the one from the other, given the provided instrument credits. But on purely sonic grounds, their contributions meld together to form settings that render geographical separation and individuating production strategies irrelevant.

October 2010